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Secondary Depth Chart Primer: Experience Marks Safety Position



We are at the end of our depth chart primers as the actual two deep should be released on Friday when Mike Gundy holds his press conference for the Tulsa game. On our last lap around Boone Pickens Stadium, let’s take a look at the Oklahoma State secondary.


Projected starters

  • CB – A.J. Green – So.
  • CB – Adrian Baker – RS-Sr.

Projected backups

  • Malik Kearse – Sr.
  • Madre Harper – So.
  • Rodarius Williams – RS-Fr.
  • Bryce Balous – RS-So.
  • Bryce Brown – RS-So.
  • Lamarcus Morton -Fr.

Along with the Cowboy Backs, this is a unit that is a big unknown. We know that Adrian Baker can play, but he’s coming off an ACL and has never played a down for OSU. A.J. Green showed some flashes last year, specifically late, but there is not a ton of tape on him.

Rodarius Williams easily could be listed as a starter as well, he is a guy the coaching staff is very high on. I get the feeling Green is firmly entrenched as a starter, and Williams/Baker are battling it out for the second spot. But this is irrelevant for the most part. Just like last year with Lampkin/Pipkins/Richards, OSU will have three cornerbacks on the field at times and will rotate the group a lot.

Outside of those three guys mentioned, there is a group of about 4-5 who can provide depth, but haven’t really separated themselves.  My prediction is Bryce Balous and Madre Harper are the guys who see the most playing time from the reserve CB unit.

Fall camp usually creates a few questions going into August.  Some of those this year were who the backup QB will be, what will the RB depth chart look like, but ultimately I think this question will be the biggest. What will the two-deep CB depth chart look like?  I think there is just a lot of speculation at this point and it will play out over the next 2-3 weeks.

Expect this group to exceed your expectations. There is solid talent here and several key players who are poised to step up as big contributors.


Projected starters

  • Tre Flowers – RS-Sr.
  • Ramon Richards – Sr.

Projected backups

  • Jerel Morrow – RS-Sr.
  • Darius Curry – RS-Sr.
  • Za-Carrius Green – RS-So.
  • Malcolm Rodriguez – Fr.
  • Thabo Mwaniki -Fr.
  • Kris McCune – Fr.

At safety you have to feel pretty good. You have a TON of experience here and play-making ability. Tre Flowers is making the move to SS, given the fact that Ramon Richards doesn’t really have the size for consistent run support. Darius Curry will provide a lot of depth, and it is not completely out of the question for Spencer to play three high safeties. Since OSU has 3-4 quality safeties and 2-3 strong pass coverage LBs, it will give them the flexibility to play a lot of different looks in pass-only situations.

Richards will be a really interesting story to follow, with his move to FS from CB. A lot of people label him as a guy who takes a lot of chances at CB, but actually after reviewing game film he was actually pretty consistent. He obviously is a ball hawk, and always seems to put himself in position to make plays, which is a great strength. I think the move to FS will allow him to roam a little more, and put himself in position to make more plays. Even in previous seasons they used him in a lot of different ways, this is just making things official with the position move. His ability to be a consistent tackler in space and the box will be crucial. The person who filled this role previously, Tre Flowers, has been the best tackler on the team the last few years.

Flowers has the ability to make it in the NFL, with his length and versatility, the skills are there. But he really needs to prove his ability in run support. He has a strange skill set where he has the frame for a strong safety, but is really better served in a free safety capacity. If he can prove that he is able to make plays in/around the line of scrimmage, it will go a long way in proving his draft status. I think making the move to SS will help his stock, but it’s a big year for him. Could mean the difference between getting as high as a 3rd-4th rounder or going undrafted. I would expect him to play SS this season, but at next level make the move back to FS.

I think a problem might be run support. Jordan Sterns was a tackle machine, and was strong run defender. There isn’t really an overly physical safety in this entire group, so I would expect them to leverage the Star (Bundage/KEM combo) position in four-LB sets for more run support instead of bringing up the SS inside the box area. Also don’t completely rule out the Star dropping into more of a safety capacity, I saw several examples in 2016 of Jordan Burton dropping into deep cover 3 coverage.

Early word from camp reports is Thabo Mwaniki is impressing. Along with Tylan Wallace and Brock Martin, he is another candidate for a true freshmen getting early playing time and avoiding a redshirt. OSU has had good luck with players from Denton Guyer, hopefully he continues the trend.

If this group can force turnovers and limit mistakes, they can still give up points and have a successful year.

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